Madama Butterfly

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PreviousOctober 2023

When Puccini saw a London production of the American playwright David Belasco’s drama about a Japanese geisha he was moved to tears, even though he didn’t understand a word of English. His choice of the theme meant that in the opera Madama Butterfly he had to master new forms of musical expression, as later on was the case of Turandot too. Puccini researched the local customs and music of faraway Japan and had numerous gramophone discs brought from Tokyo to familiarise himself with Japanese folk music. He dedicated great effort to rendering Japanese colour. Madama Butterfly is a masterpiece when it comes to minute depiction of atmosphere and poetry. 

The opera’s premiere on 17 February 1904 at Milan’s La Scala ended with stamping, booing and merciless criticism – it was upbraided for its lengthy scenes, redundant episodes in Act 1, and a general lack of drama. Puccini subsequently revised the opera, dividing it into three Acts and adding the tenor aria “Addio, fiorito asil” (Farewell, flowery refuge), in which the American officer Pinkerton bids farewell to the places where he has experienced beautiful moments of fatal happiness with the fifteen-year-old geisha Cio-Cio-San, alias Butterfly. The work’s new version was first performed on 28 May 1904 in Brescia to great acclaim. Its triumphant journey across the world was launched by the English premiere at Covent Garden in London on 10 July 1905, with Ema Destinnová and Enrico Caruso in the lead roles.

The opera is staged in Italian original version and Czech and English surtitles are used in the performance.

Photo: Pavel Petráněk, Dan Jäger

Duration of the performance: 2 hours and 35 minutes, 1 intermission

Program and cast

The opera is staged in Italian original version. Czech and English subtitles are used in the performance.

Approximate running time, including intermissions:
3 hours, 10 minutes, two 20-minute intermissions.

Conductor:  Jiří Štrunc

Cio-Cio-San: Maria Kobielska

Suzuki: Štěpánka Pučálková, Jana Sýkorová

F. B. Pinkerton: Peter Berger, Luciano Mastro

Sharpless: Pavol Remenár, Svatopluk Sem

Yamadori: Igor Loškár, Matúš Mazár

Kate Pinkerton: Lenka Pavlovič, Erika Vocelová Jarkovská

Goro: Josef Moravec,  Václav Sibera

Bonzo: Miloš Horák, Jiří Přibyl

The Imperial Commissioner: Oleg Korotkov, Roman Vocel

Yakuside: Tomáš Foltýnek, Michael Skalický

Librarian: Libor Novák, Peter Paleček

Cio-Cio-San’s Mother: Soňa Koczianová, Markéta Frýdová

Son: Jan Adam, Ondřej Biravský

Aunt: Gabriela Pešinová, Eliška Sedláčková

Cousin: Eliška Mourečková, Tereza Růžičková

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today


The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.




The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.




By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.


By tram


By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.


By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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